From rationalist Berlin with Mies van der Rohe to motorcycle design, 5 unexpected books on design and architecture: the perfect gift for the 2023 holiday season
Among the many titles released recently, here is a selection that will appeal to professionals, students and design and architecture enthusiasts.

Five books to reflect, to dream or, why not, to start planning a weekend in Rome or Berlin. Five publications that close the 2023 edition of this column and which, in the month of the end-of-year holidays, are as many refined and original gift ideas. Perfect to put under the tree. Happy Holidays.

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1. The meaning of women for the city by Elena Granata (Einaudi, 17 euros)

"Unable to build, they wrote." This is how Elena Granata, professor of Analysis of the city and territory and of Urban Geography at the Polytechnic of Milan, begins in this recently released book which brings together the thoughts of photographers, scholars , architects and interior designers such as Charlotte Perriand, Lina Bo Bardi, Majora Carter, Denise Scott Brown and many others.

Women who, although excluded from traditional practice, spoke about people and spaces and wrote about houses, cities and neighborhoods in transformation expressing thoughts and visions which, despite everything, contributed to laying the foundations of modern urban planning.

Kept away from architecture, they dedicated themselves to photography and found a thousand ways to describe the people and spaces of the city. Excluded from urban planning, they dedicated themselves to the minute, granular scale of the design of living and daily life, designing spaces of proximity and well-being.

«They were more gardeners than designers, more pedagogists than engineers» explains the author. And they have always observed the cities with the detachment and clarity that only those excluded from the game can have.

Who will like it: creatives interested in the "practical thinking" that women, in various and always eclectic forms, have developed over time about the city. A thought that today we cannot ignore because, while we are called to rethink the relationship between spaces and life, between daily times and expectations of well-being, between nature and the city, the perspective from which these "invisible protagonists" looked at the world appears truly crucial .

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2. An architect and a city: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Berlin by Michele Caja, Renato Capozzi and Luca Lanini (Quodlibet, 22 euros)

Designing a city for contemporary man, functional, dynamic and at the same time reconciled with nature. This is how we can translate, in extreme synthesis, the ultimate meaning of the work of the architect and designer born in Aachen in 1886 and who in two moments of his life, from 1921 to 1930 and then from 1962 to 1968, left important traces of himself in the German capital.

To reconstruct the Berlin journey of Mies van der Rohe in Berlin, three architecture teachers who, in this book, analyzed projects such as that for a skyscraper on Friedrichstrasse, the Adam Department Store, the Reichsbank building up to the Neue Nationalgalerie (a true icon of rationalist architecture, reopened to the public two years ago after major renovation works) to highlight the pillars of the design radicality of one of the protagonists of architecture and design of the twentieth century.

Page after page, it becomes clear that what united these works has always been the idea of reconciling built forms with the needs of a new sociality and openness to nature. With the preface by Carlo Moccia and the afterword by Alberto Cuomo.

Who will like it: those who love rationalism and history, because it allows you to get to know more closely the creative style of one of the four architects who "made" the architecture of the twentieth century together with Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Gropius.

3. The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire by Charles M. Falco and Ultan Guilfoyle (Phaidon, 50 euros).

Symbol of freedom and adventure, motorbikes have always been a testing ground for designers, in an effort to reconcile aesthetics and engineering. And they continue to be so, given the advent of electric vehicles and new technologies which, together with ecological issues, have led to a new revolution in motorcycle design.

In this re-edition, the professor of optical physics at the University of Arizona Charles M. Falco and the independent director Ultan Guilfoyle, history experts of motorcycle design, review 100 models produced from the end of the 19th century to the present day to reveal the influence this iconic object has had on cinema, fashion, sport, advertising and technology . Without neglecting a small final leap into the future and the technological innovations of tomorrow. A volume full of images of motorcycles and vintage objects.

Who will like it: design lovers and, of course, motorcycle enthusiasts. To the easy riders of yesterday and today, souls seduced by what this iconic object represents, wrapped as it is in an aura of freedom and rebellion.

4. The Package Design Book, by Pentawards (Taschen, 60 euros, edition VII)

Today packaging no longer just serves to attract attention: it also saves the planet. Thanks to the increasingly widespread sustainable design promoted by young designers and established design studios who put the reduction of environmental impact at the top of their objectives.

For seven years Pentawards, the main global network dedicated to packaging design (which includes 50 members representing 25 brands and 25 design agencies) and creator of a prestigious international annual award, has gathered in a volume the best of international design in this sector.

And, for this latest edition, it has decided to collect the most interesting packaging innovations in the Sustainable Design category, finally giving space to the projects of professionals and young talents who work to reduce the impact of packaging on the planet.

Who will like it: creatives with a green heart and a mind open to the world, firmly convinced that every shopping experience must be a pleasure for consumers and a gift to the environment, also thanks to a cutting-edge, noble, sustainable and inclusive design.

5. Rights and space in the metropolitan city - Rome and other landscapes, edited by Andrea Bruschi and Paola Veronica Dell'Aira (Quodlibet, 23 euros)

From the unification of Italy onwards Rome has grown exponentially, to the point of assuming the metropolitan dimension we know today: if, until the 1980s, the border between the city and the suburbs was represented by the ring road, in the last forty years the city has expanded to the province and branched out around modern infrastructures, tarnishing its physiognomy.

Today's challenge? Getting out of the crisis and finally finding a new identity, that of a metropolitan city and European capital. A challenge for urban planners and architects, in a panorama marked by the prevalence of unbuilt space over urbanized space and within complex social structures, which highlight the inequalities of a city with precarious and changing balances.

The authors, two architecture professors at La Sapienza, propose in this book an interdisciplinary reflection on the themes of public space, mobility, the active and creative city, and citizen initiatives. With the aim of focusing on possible research and project directions to begin building the Rome of tomorrow.

Who will like it: architects, urban planners and all those who love Rome and look with pain at its many problems. And to all those who are convinced that the city, every city, must above all be a place of relationships, rather than a container for fast travel and the consumption of goods.